The 2010 Monterey Audubon birdathon
found observers searching from 4 p.m. on 30 April to 4 p.m. on 1 May
for as many species as could be located within Monterey County. With
high winds in the afternoon but a lovely spring morning on Saturday, it
proved to be a day to enjoy our breeding avifauna (Red-tailed Hawk on
Birders checked sites from as far away as the oak savanna in Priest Valley (right),
to Cholame Valley in the far southeast, to South Coast Ridge Road in
the far southwest, to the Moss Landing environs in the north (below;
Rita Carratello looks towards the heronry in eucs at Moonglow Dairy). Not to mention many places in between.
There were some good birds at these sites. The big oak tree on North Fork Rd (right) in Priest Valley had a pair of Lewis's Woodpecker,
the only ones currently known to be in the county. Found in mid-April
by Tim Amaral, and recorded on the birdathon by Steve Rovell, they
evoke questions: will they nest this year?[breeding has never been
confirmed in MTY]. This photo (below) was taken the day after the
birdathon (© D. Roberson).
Moonglow heronry in the eucalyptus grove was booming. On 1 May there
were at least 7 Great Blue Heron nests (above left; this one already
had a chick), 16 Great Egret nests, and at least 25 Double-crested
Cormorant nests (photos © D. Roberson). There were also waterfowl
babies galore (right, Canada Goose gosling). A good selection of our
scarce summer 'puddle' ducks were found (e.g., N. Shoveler, N. Pintail,
Green-winged & Blue-winged Teal, Am. Wigeon).
But conditions were not right to locate all
of our breeding birds which is so critical to the success of a spring
birdathon. Last summer's fire destabilized the road to Cone Peak, and
it was still closed. That cost us Red-breasted Nuthatch and maybe Mountain Chickadee & Black-chinned Sparrow. There was snow
on the ground at Chews Ridge. And while we tried to cover as much of
MTY as possible, coverage was lighter this year. In addition to those
just mentioned, we missed these breeding birds: N. Harrier, Bald Eagle,
C. Moorhen, Costa's Hummingbird, Hermit Thrush, and Blue Grosbeak.
These misses contributed to a comparatively low final total: 232 species for the 24–hour effort.
On the other hand, Grasshopper Sparrow was widespread (left, near Soledad 1 May © Chris Hartzell). The VWS condor team recorded a wild-hatched California Condor during our dates, and these difficult breeders were located:
- American Bittern at Zmudowski (D. Roberson, Steve Gerow, Nanci Adams)
- Sharp-shinned Hawk near Memorial Park (Chris Tenney)
- G. Roadrunner in e. MTY & Canyon Wren at Fremont Peak (Tim Amaral & team)
- Lesser Nighthawk in Cholame Valley (also Long-eared Owl; R.J. Adams & team) & on the San Lorenzo River border with San Benito Co. (Steve Rovell)
- Black-chinned Hummingbird at Jamesburg on Tassajara Road (Blake Matheson)
- Dusky Flycatcher on South Coast Ridge Road (Scott & Linda Terrill).
- Bank Swallow at Fort Ord (David & Jane Styer; this colony was just discovered by them last year)
- American Dipper on Big Sur coast (Mike Tyner)
We also had late lingering diving ducks, such as Redhead at two sites, and this Gr. White-fronted Goose
(right, Blackstone Winery pond in Gonzales 1 May © Chris Hartzell)
was lingering from at least January .... and maybe even longer. Not
many late winter landbirds were found; the best was probably a White-throated Sparrow
still at Bill & Mary Rydell's feeder in Pebble Beach. Migration was
rather slow during the birdathon but these were of particular interest:
- Cattle Egret & two Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Moonglow Dairy (D. Roberson, R. Carratello)
- Solitary Sandpipers at Moonglow (D. Roberson, R. Carratello) & at Salinas WTP (Brian L. Sullivan)
- male Calliope Hummingbird on South Coast Ridge Road (Scott & Linda Terrill)
Notable finds during sea-watching from shore included:
- Black-footed Albatross & Ancient Murrelet from Pt. Pinos (Scott & Linda Terrill)
- breeding-plumaged Horned Grebe from Monterey (B.J. Weed), Moss Landing (D. Roberson), and 3 in Carmel Bay (Craig Hohenberger, Michael Rieser)
- Black Scoter & Rhinoceros Auklet off Seaside (Steve Rovell)
- Pomarine Jaeger sitting on the beach at Salinas R. mouth (Tim Amaral & team)
|In addition, a Monterey Bay Whalewatch cetacean-viewing trip 3-6 nmi off Pt. Pinos on 1 May had these great additional species: Laysan Albatross, Leach's Storm-Petrel, and Cassin's Auklet (Mike Johns).
When it was all over, Monterey Audubon and the Wild Bird Center hosted a countdown dinner with prizes, and Whole Foods Market prepared a tasty meal (above & below).
Among those enjoying the evening's festivities were team leader Tim Amaral and photographer Marcos Rangel (above right), and this year's birdathon organizer Steve Rovell (right). More acknowledgements follow at the bottom of this web page.
funds raised by this year's birdathon for Monterey Audubon Society will
be used to fund 4–5 scholarships for students in environmental
We hope all of you can help with next year's event.
A list of this year's species follows:
Gr White-fronted Goose
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Calif. Condor [wild-fledged young]
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
N. Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Gray Warbler
are always many to thank for any major birdathon effort. Steve Rovell
organized this year's effort. Access to non-public lands was
provided by California State Parks, Santa Lucia Conservancy, Elkhorn
Slough Foundation, and others. Major sponsors
were the Wild Bird Center and Monterey Peninsula Audubon Society. Jill
Himonas and her team at the Wild Bird Center, and Bette Mayer from the
Audubon board, were invaluable in organizing the countdown. The
wonderful countdown dinner was provided by Whole Food Market. The many
participants and financial supporters are much appreciated. This year's
proceeds go to fund scholarships for students in environmental studies.
Jan Scott chaired a grant committee to review the applications, aided
by Sheila & Alan Baldridge, Rita Carratello, and Brian Weed.